Here are 10 tips on how to raise guinea fowl. For example, learn how to keep guinea fowl in your yard, can guinea fowl live with chickens, and advice on raising guinea keets.
Guinea fowl are known as nature’s alarm system for a reason, and they do their job quite well. At times a little to well. This bird is extremely territorial and a male guinea is very protective of the hens.
They are not the most attractive bird due their odd head, but they do have great qualities to them, and they will contribute to the property like no other poultry or fowl does. But first, you need the answer to these two popular questions – can guinea fowl live with chickens and how to keep guinea fowl in your yard.
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Is Raising Guinea Fowl Ideal for all Homesteads?
In short, the answer is no. Those who homestead in town or who live close neighbors should research raising guinea fowl prior to incorporating them onto the property.
Now, that’s not to say the are not good to raise, on the contrary, guinea fowl are very beneficial for any homestead or farm. You simply need to know how to manage such a, well, different bird.
How to Raise Guinea Fowl
There are pros and cons to raising this type of bird, but as mentioned you are going to need to truly understand the breed prior to incorporating them. This article will cover –
- Run size
- How to keep guinea fowl in your yard during free ranging
- Can guinea fowl live with chickens
- Raising guinea keets
- Nature alarm system
- Pest control
- Raising guinea fowl for meat, eggs, and feathers
Guinea fowl do not handle confinement well and do best with room to roam. These birds are extremely territorial making free ranging or extremely large enclosure a better option for them
In short, reconsider raising guinea fowl if you or a neighbor cannot handle the extremely loud way they communicate.
Raising Guineas in a Coop
Many are often shocked to learn that guineas can be raised to return to the coop nightly, protecting the bird from predators such as owls, coyotes, foxes, and even racoons. Not to mention, like chickens this bird needs shelter from the harsh winter months.
How does one train a guinea to return to the coop nightly? The process begins with raising guinea keets.
Raising Guinea Keets
To ensure guineas return the coop nightly you must train them from the moment they hatch. Freshly hatched guinea are known as keets, and they are the most stunning chicks you will ever come across. They are curious and caution, and are very wary of humans.
When given the opportunity this bird prefers to roam and sleep high in trees, which is why it is essential to brood them in a structure which will eventually become their coop. A quick tip, when raising guinea keets plan the coop size to be large enough to house adult birds, 3 square feet per bird. There is really no need to make a coop any larger as they prefer to be outdoors regardless of the weather.
Follow the same step for brooding chicks, however, plan to place the brooder directly into the coop. Once the chicks have outgrow their little brooder, continue to brood them in the coop for a minimum of 1 month prior to allowing them to venture outdoors.
Instead of allowing keets to immediately free range grant them access to the outdoor within the safety of a run. Plan to keep them in a run for 2 to 3 months prior to allowing them to free range. This will ensure they will transition from outdoors to the safety of a coop independently.
Hatching Guinea Eggs with a Broody Chicken Hen
Another great way to train keets to return to a coop is to all a broody chicken hen to hatch guinea fowl eggs. Much like chicks, keets will follow momma hen wherever she goes, which means returning to the coop nightly.
If this is the route you choose to go it is not necessary to set up a brooder or keep the keets contained within the coop or run. They will have learned the safety of a coop through the guidance of a good broody hen.
Now that you know guineas will return to the coop nightly when properly trained to do so, let’s move on to the decision as to whether to keep the birds in a run or allow them to free range.
Of course a well constructed run will protect the birds from predators of all type, however, how large must the run be? Keep in mind, this type of fowl is always on the move. The only time you will catch them still is at night when they are roosting.
Unlike chickens which need 6 to 8 square feet per bird, guineas require a minimum of 10 square feet. However, I would advise on 20 square feet per bird. This will allow the bird room to roam and will minimize boredom.
Guinea fowl can easily reach a branch 15 feet high. To allow them to stretch their wings, consider placing high branches throughout the run.
With free ranging comes predator issues. Though guineas are quick, they are at risk for not only birds of prey but also foxes and coyotes. Be prepared to freshen your flock yearly if you should allow them to free range.
With that said, there are many benefits for allowing guinea fowl to free range. Take a look below to learn more.
Pest and Bug Control
Guinea fowl love, and I mean love, to consume ticks, regardless of the species. They have been know to clear a field of ticks within a very short period of time, however, it does not stop there. This fowl will also consume grasshoppers, crickets mosquito larva, fleas, crane flies, small snakes, slugs and many other pests and bugs.
Many individuals will bring guineas onto the property to keep the bug population down. However, there are many more qualities with raising guinea fowl.
How to Keep Guinea in your Yard
The biggest complaint with raising this type of bird is their desire to roam. The million dollar question – how to keep guinea fowl in your yard? The answer – it starts with raising guinea keets.
Tips for how to keep guinea fowl in your yard or on your property –
- Place poultry netting in areas which you wish to contain them. This will often require you to clip one wing to prevent them from flying over.
- Provide them enough pasture space to free range without the birds crossing your property line.
- Construct their housing away from the property line, this will encourage them to stay near their space.
Can Guinea Fowl Live with Chickens
Anyone who has raised guineas will tell you that they are an aggressive and territorial bird. This is a very true fact.
So, can guinea fowl live with chickens and other poultry? In short, the answer is, yes. Is it ideal? Well, not necessarily.
In the many years which we have raised guinea fowl they have countlessly attached our chickens and turkeys. Chickens and turkeys are skittish by nature, and for some reason this encourages guineas to become aggressive. The attack can lead to the loss of feathers to blood being drawn. The more aggressive attacks will lead to death.
Guineas which are allowed to roost with chickens will often assert their dominance by attacking the bird’s head or comb. Do not mistaken the fact that guinea fowl are ruthless and will gang up on poultry at any chance possible.
With that said, in the 7 years of raising guinea fowl they have never attacked our ducks. I can only assume that it is because ducks do not spook quite as easy as chicken and turkey do. I would go as far as to state, ducks bore guinea.
A mix flock can be achieved, unfortunately not in a small coop or run setting. Individuals who wish to raise guineas with other poultry should do so with caution. Allow your poultry and guinea fowl to free range together, while keeping them in separate coops is best.
Nature’s Alarm System
Guinea fowl communicate in 3 ways, ranging from a sweet chirp to a call, with the loudest form of communicating being the screeching siren call.
The basic, calm form of communication is a gentle, sweet chirping sound. Both males and females chirp, and this form of communication is done when the birds are close together and all is right in their world.
Guineas release a somewhat loud call when they seek to locate one another. A male guinea will release a one syllable call which sound like, “chi”. A female guinea’s call cannot be mistaken for a male’s call. A female’s call consists of two syllable call which sounds like, “buckwheat-buckwheat”.
The Siren Screech
This is the call every guinea keeper will need to be able to recognize. The high pitch consistent screeching siren call indicates that there is a predator present. The predator can be a bird of prey, coyote, bobcat, racoon, or even the UPS truck. Yes, the UPS truck.
Anything out of the norm for this bird warrant notification that something is not right in their world.
This call has saved our poultry team time and time again from coyotes and bobcats, and for this reason guinea fowl are always welcomed onto our property. However, for those who live in close proximity to a neighbor this bird may not be the best choice. A guinea’s daily form of communication can be quite irritating to many.
Most individuals would not consider raising guineas as a sustainable meat source. The meat on this bird is dark and slightly gamey in flavor. The bird contains very little fat and is delicious when roasted, smoked, or added to stews or curry.
Guineas are seasonal layers, laying from mid spring through early fall. Much like training guinea fowl to return the the coop nightly, they can be trained to lay there as well. Though more times than not guinea fowl which are allowed to free range full time will more than likely lay their eggs in a communal nest in a thicket, high weeds, or under a bush.
Their eggs are quite easy to identify as they are smaller than chicken eggs. Guinea eggs come in various shades of tan and are often speckled. The pointy end of the egg is much pointier than another bird’s egg, and the shell is as hard as a rock.
These incredible eggs consist of more yolk than whites. In addition to this –
- guinea eggs are creamier than chicken eggs due to the high yolk content
- they have a more orange yolk than chicken eggs due to their desire to consume more wild protein than feed
- these eggs are higher in protein and have a higher and healthier fat content than chicken eggs
- not to mention, guinea eggs make the best homemade egg noodles
The beautiful polka dot feathers are prized and used for jewelry making, crafting, and making lures for fly fishing.
Purchasing Guinea Keets
Now that you have decided to raise guinea fowl it is essential to find a reputable breeder. When it comes to raising guinea keets it is best to incorporated them onto the property as soon as possible. How to keep guinea fowl in your yard or property will depend on their age. Avoid bringing guineas to the property which are mature or in their teen phase, they are much harder to keep around.
Hatching eggs can be purchased locally or through certified NPIP breeders. Day old keets can be purchased from hatcheries such as McMurray Hatchery or if your lucky, from a local individual who raising guinea fowl.
Unlike chicken, ducks, or turkeys a group of guinea fowl are not known as a flock of guineas, but instead they are called a confusion, rasp, or mob. Why? Because they are truly crazy bird.